The view from my veranda

Journalists, politicians and a few home truths

18th November 2022

Hello! Shabbat Shalom! Hope you are well.

Can I begin with a question? Why on earth does the USA feel that they have to investigate the death of  one specific journalist when at least 45 journalists have died in war or revolution situations this year? Could it be because it involves the Israel Palestinian situation? Would anyone know the name Shireen Abu Akleh if she had died anywhere else in the world? It isn’t because she worked for Al Jazeera because nobody knows the name Tairq Ayyoub who was killed by American fire on Al Jazeera’s Baghdad office; Taras Protsyuk, 35, killed when an American tank fired a shell directly at the Reuters suite; Jose Couso, 37, a cameraman for the Spanish television channel Tele 5; British ITV News correspondent Terry Lloyd, who was killed by American troops on the southern Iraq warfront, all in Iraq. Of course, I am only aware of those killed by US fire, but please, understand that people die in wars and war correspondents are reporting from the most dangerous sites. War is ugly and our Defence Minister, Benny Gantz is rightly offended by the US insinuation that the investigation into the death of Shireen Abu Akleh was anything but thorough.

I used to think that holding Israel, the IDF, to a higher standard than any other army in the world was a compliment, which it is, until those standards are used as a weapon.

A while ago, I wrote about the industrial estate in Ariel, a town oft described as a settlement. The industrial estate, right on the border with the PA, employs equal numbers of Palestinians and new immigrants giving equal rights to both. Indeed in Yisrael Twitto’s factory he pays their medical insurance (there is none in the PA) and salaries equal to the Israeli standard. He also sends bright young workers to University at his expense. Why am I telling you about Ariel? Because this week a terrorist stabbed two security guards at the industrial estate, ran and stabbed two more people at the petrol station nearby, stole a car and rammed vehicles as he drove against the traffic on the main road. He killed 3 innocents and severely injured 3 more before being shot. I am certain that the 19 year old terrorist had no idea that he had chosen an oasis of cooperation to kill, or did he?

It’s a given that we mere mortals cannot understand the machinations of politicians. They have a totally different mindset, sometimes I think that their thinking is totally vertical, whereas most of us have an element of lateral thinking. Imagine, you fight hard to achieve something then when the power is in someone else’s hand you fight the very thing that you put forward but the first thing you do when back in power is to put that thing high on your agenda. Did you understand what I just wrote? because I don’t understand the mindset or the action! Let me explain. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led the discussions to repeal the necessity for Israelis to have visas to enter the USA, to have a visa waiver, and almost succeeded, but when the Bennet/Lapid government came to sign he decided he was against it! Now that he is back in power, he will push it through to ensure his signature is on the agreement. So confusing!

Life is not easy for the newly re-elected Prime Minister. Benjamin Netanyahu is conceivably the brightest and most experienced politician on the Israeli political scene but this time his partners in the potential coalition are far further right than his centre right Likud and their idealistic extremism does not stop them from making impossible demands. As I said last week, I doubt very much that Mr Netanyahu will succumb to the carefully scripted histrionics of Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich. Ben Gvir, most certainly not my cup of tea, is much more realistic whereas Smotrich honestly scares me. The fat lady has not sung a note yet, the discussions with all parties in the coalition will continue but the PM does not have an easy time ahead. The realization that Mrs Ben Gvir carries a hand weapon has created a storm of criticism, particularly as it was very apparent in a photograph taken with Sarah Netanyahu.

Diplomatic relations are warming up with Turkey and conversations are taking place between the leaders. It has been a long journey for the Turkish leader who has taken his country on a myriad of attempted alliances after Turkey was refused entry into the EU. Once lose ties with Israel became strained to breaking point when the “Mavi Marmara” incident hit the headlines but gradually Erdogan has come to understand that his country’s alliance with Israel was the most logical.

If I tell you that Israelis are off to Qatar in their thousands, would you believe me? Well they are. The World Cup will take place this week and thousands of Israelis have flown to Doha for the colossal event. Obviously, there are fears of diplomatic incidents but since Qatar is a virtual dictatorship in which those who break the law are severely punished, I believe that the powers that be will ensure the safety of Israelis, indeed of all their football fans, after all this is the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East!

Many of you have never heard the name Yosef Haddad, probably thought he was just another Israeli, but in fact he is not “just” anything! Yosef Haddad is a young Arab Moslem Israeli who got fed up with the false reporting of life for Arab Israelis and after his studies set out to change the world! In this podcast entitled “You don’t have to be Jewish to be successful in Israel” he speaks out for those Arab Israelis who have succeeded in every sphere.  

Which reminded me of a cartoon put on Facebook by the wonderful Prof. Mohammed Dajani Douadi showing four men, two on each side of a tree. On the one side the Palestinians where the man on the ground is holding the man climbing up, preventing him from achieving his goal whereas the other side has two Israelis and the man on the ground is pushing the climber higher to achieve his goal. I was fascinated. Incidentally Prof. Dajani is from a very old and proud Jerusalem Palestinian family and spends his life working toward peace. He is on our International Advisory Board at and is a very special person.

Talking of Impact-se, last week I forgot to tell you that I had a wonderful visit from Nancy Epstein, a Board member of Impact. It was so wonderful to actually meet her, enjoy her company rather than just seeing a friendly face on a Zoom meeting!

As you well know I love to cook, have always felt that the secret to good food lies in the amount of love one puts into the process, but this week we enjoyed going to restaurants since I’m not quite back to standing and cooking. We actually went to the Pop Up Café in Kiriat Anavim on two consecutive days, once with some girlfriends and then with Zvi’s cousin Jack Shapiro and his lovely partner Lina. Waxing lyrical about the atmosphere of the coffee shop is obvious, as I said it’s like sitting in a bower, surrounded by beautiful plants and trees, and both the food and the service are excellent. Jack hasn’t been to our new home so it was really exciting. The next day, after a home cooked shakshuka, Zvi took them on a jam packed day in Jerusalem, starting at the Kotel (Western Wall) with a quick drive around the Old City, then to the Biblelands Museum  and on to the Herzl Museum , which is more of a fantastic walk through Herzl’s life than a museum visit, where they were met by Zvi’s close friend and Herzl expert Dr. Motti Friedman who created the museum, finally they went to the new memorial to fallen soldiers of the IDF next to the entrance to the Mount Herzl cemetery . Exhausted but happy Jack and Lina came home for a short rest then we set off for another restaurant, Naya in the nearby moshav of Beit Nekufa where we met Nattie and Yolli Zonszein for a Mexican reunion since the three men were all at high school together in Mexico City, the “Yiddische Shule” or Yiddish School where Zvi’s parents were teachers on loan from Israel. Indeed an evening of memories rekindled

The following day, after I served everyone breakfast, we went for a walk around our complex, with a fantastic history lesson from Zvi. We walked the Presidents Avenue next to our apartment building, starting with the trees planted by Theodore Herzl and Woolfson and all subsequent Presidents soon to be joined by Isaac Herzog, perhaps next to his late father’s tree. We then had a tour of the exquisite building around which our complex was built. Originally built as a sanatorium for the Union (Histadrut) workers of the original health fund (kupat holim) its architecture is reminiscent of the White House, a truly elegant structure. Jack and Lina then left for Ra’anana and Zvi and I rested!

This morning we were invited to our young neighbours for coffee which was delightful then Zvi headed off for his Friday Parliament and I sat down to write to you!! This evening we will go to Amiad and Noga for Shabbat dinner so that I do not need to prepare food. On Sunday Zvi will be showing an interested group the Avenue of the Presidents taking them down the many steps to the lower level and the pill boxes which defended the road to Jerusalem during the War of Independence in 1947-48, indeed the war which continues until today. It never fails to amaze me how every inch of Israel holds either Biblical or historic importance.

If music be the food of love play on

The late Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, Rabbi Jonathan Saks introduced this rendition of Oseh Shalom, giving extra meaning to the prayer, the words of which are

“He who makes peace in his high places
He shall make peace upon us
And upon all of Israel
And say Amen”

Bob Dylan wrote “Neighborhood Bully” as a commentary of the way that the world treats Israel and the Jews. A must listen

On a much happier note, in the old days whenever an El Al flight began to land in Ben Gurion Airport the tannoy on the plane would play Hevenu Shalom Aleichem, a traditional song of greeting, but today it is just ordinary muzak, which is rather a shame; however, the Jerusalem Music Academy decided to right the wrong and greeted a delighted group of young people with the old song in a brand new fashion. I know I have played it before but hey, it’s wonderful!!

By the way, I am very happy to tell you that my surgeon is very pleased with me!

That’s all folks! As Shabbat nears, the time for contemplation and family, I wish you a good weekend.  With love from Jerusalem